Challenges Facing Export of Horticultural Products in Kenya

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Introduction
Horticultural deals in growing of fruits, vegetables and flowers while horticultural commodities have been growing in Kenya since 1950`s, the government only began to allocate resources for research and export promotion in late 1960`s. as a result of the government encouragement the volume of horticultural exports from Kenya rose almost 25 fold between 1968-1986, becoming a major source of foreign exchange. The horticultural export sector has experienced rapid growth since 1966 because of the active role by the private sector and minimum government intervention. The European Union is the larges consumer of Kenya horticultural exports Kenya horticultural export to the European Union accounted for 45 percent of the total export in 2000 For most of the horticultural exports products the European Union accounts for the bulk of the trade in Kenya representing 90 percent of Kenya’s total fresh horticultural exports with Holland leading in the market share followed by United Kingdom, France and Germany respectively.

Major horticultural commodities in Kenya include:-
Vegetable e.g. Beetroot Baby marrow Brinjal Cauliflower, Chilies Cucumber Lettuce, Onions, Potatoes, Carrots, Kale, Spinach, Turnips •Fruitse.E.gAvocadoes,Apple,Bananas,Grapes,Guavas,lemons,Limes,Mangoes,Oranges Papayas, Passion fruit, pear, Pineapples, Plums, Strawberries ,water melons, Tomatoes •Cut flower e.g. Iris, Orchids, Roses, Tuberose, alliums, Carnations etc

In 1960`s Kenya was largely dependent on two export crops, coffee and tea for foreign exchange earnings. The country was also faced with rapidly growing population, excessive rural-urban migration, and regional inequities. To address the problem the government through the horticultural development plan set the following goals:-

Increase the productive use of land without depleting land resources •To generate income especially for small scale holders
To increase foreign exchange earnings
To expand domestic food production, thereby raising nutritional levels and reduces the need for expensive food imports.

The goals were realistic for a number of reasons. While Kenya has scarcity of highly productive farmland, it does not have quantities of marginal land suitable for horticulture and also an ample supply of unemployed youth and underemployed agricultural workers available for the labor intensive requirements for horticultural production Horticultural also became very attractive to the small scale farmers, anxious to find profitable products other than coffee and tea especially considering the turbulent world market for the two commodities The government also realized early enough the existence of several obstacles to the expansion of horticultural sector which include:- •Irrigation expenditures,

Extension services
Poor infrastructure development,
Shortage of air cargo space
Expanding external competition from Pakistan, India, Israel, Ivory coast, Morocco and South Africa

Challenges facing export of horticultural products Kenya
As the volume of production and export increases, there are constraints being felt both at production level and marketing level. At production level, the rising costs of inputs especially fertilizers and other agrochemicals most of which are imported are challenges the farmer is faced with. Freight costs are also rising steadily while air cargo space on scheduled flights from Nairobi to the main markets is growing at only 10 percent per year. Changes in demand at the markets are a problem especially when the marketing intelligence is not well developed. Lack of technical know-how especially in specialized areas like floriculture is noted to be a constraint in the industry. The major challenges facing horticultural export can be categorized into the following:- Tariff barrier

Non tariff barrier
Competition
Soaring cost of imported inputs due to weak currency
Declining trend in external assistance to...
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